Paris target achieved eight years early
Emissions reductions in Australia’s electricity market are on track to meet the Paris target eight years ahead of schedule, in 2022, and the government has seized on new data to attack Labor’s plan for stronger intervention to curb carbon pollution.
The Australian can reveal that, by 2022, emissions from power generation in the National Electricity Market are projected to fall to 26 per cent below 2005 levels, and remain stable out to 2030.
A 28 per cent reduction on 2005 levels is forecast for 2023.
Energy Minister Angus Taylor has used the findings to dismiss the case made by Labor and business groups for the introduction of a mechanism to achieve certainty over emissions reductions by integrating climate and energy policy.
“We do not need a mechanism to reduce emissions because we are going to get there without intervention seven or eight years ahead of time,” Mr Taylor told The Australian. “The debate is all wrong. We are going to smash the target without intervention.
“There is no need to have a debate about emissions unless you have a higher target.
“If you believe that 26 per cent is right, then we are going to smash it years ahead of time. So the focus must be price and reliability”.
Under the Paris climate change agreement, Australia is to reduce emissions across the economy by 26-28 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.
The Emissions Projections 2018 Report — to be released later this week — shows the targets will be easily met eight years ahead of the 2030 deadline in the National Electricity Market because of the large increase in power generation from renewables.
The National Electricity Market covers the east coast and represents about 85 per cent of electricity generation in Australia.
Confirming record levels of investment in renewable generation in the electricity market, the report points to a 250 per cent increase in power from wind and solar by 2021, with about $15 billion of committed investment.
Mr Taylor told The Australian: “The challenge of that amount of solar and wind coming into the system is to keep prices down and keep the lights on. We don’t have an emissions challenge.”
He also used the report to take aim at Labor’s policy to implement a 45 per cent emissions reduction on 2005 levels by 2030 and introduce a 50 per cent renewable energy target to be achieved over the same period.
“A 45 per cent target will require a major intervention. And that intervention is as yet undefined by Labor. They are going to have to explain how they are going to do it. A 26 per cent target requires no intervention.”
Mr Taylor said the findings showed there was no need to implement the now failed national energy guarantee, which was abandoned by Malcolm Turnbull in an unsuccessful bid to save his leadership just days before he was ousted, and which has now been revived by Bill Shorten.
The report shows that, from the mid-2020s, emissions in the National Electricity Market will rise slightly as electricity demand increases with population and economic growth. Rooftop solar photovoltaic uptake is also projected to grow strongly to 2030, helping to meet extra demand.
By 2020, across the entire electricity sector, emissions are projected to land at 170 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent — a decrease of 7 per cent on current levels.
In the decade to 2030, there will be 138 million tonnes of cumulative reduction across the electricity sector.